07/12/2013 22:09 GMT | Updated 06/02/2014 10:59 GMT

Nelson Mandela's Relatives Say His Spirit Will Live On

Nelson Mandela's relatives have spoken for the first time about his death, saying his spirit will live on.

The former South African President's family held a press conference to remind the world that his death also represents a personal loss for them.

Family spokesman Lt Gen Themba Matanzima said it had "not been easy for the last few days" since the 95-year-old died at home on Thursday.


He said: "We have lost a great man, a son of the soil whose greatness in our family was in the simplicity of his nature in our midst - a caring family leader who made time for all and on that score we will miss him dearly."

He also said: "The pillar of the family is gone, just as he was away during that 27 painful years of imprisonment, but in our hearts and souls he will always be with us, his spirit endures," he said.

"As a family we commit ourselves to uphold and be guided by the values he lived for and was prepared to die for.

"As a family we learned from him to appreciate the values that made him the leader that was recognised by all.

"Chief among these is the lesson that a life lived for others is a life well-lived."

South Africans were urged "sing at the top of our voices" on Sunday in a National Day of Prayer and Reflection on Sunday in honour of Mr Mandela

Downing Street said that David Cameron has written to South Africa's president Jacob Zuma and Mr Mandela's widow Graca Machel to express his condolences.

"The PM paid tribute to Mandela's extraordinary grace and dignity and the example that he set not just to South Africa but to the world on his release from Robben Island, saying 'he gave the world new hope that the deepest wounds can be healed and that freedom and reconciliation can triumph over division and hate'," a spokeswoman said.

"The PM concluded: 'He will forever have a distinguished place in history. It falls to all of us and future generations to learn from him and try to realise his extraordinary legacy'."

Politicians, celebrities and the public across the globe yesterday spoke with reverence of their memories of Mr Mandela and in recognition of his work in defeating racism.

In the UK, the Queen led the tributes to South Africa's first black president after visiting a plaque commemorating Mr Mandela's 1996 visit to Parliament.

"The Queen was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Nelson Mandela last night," a statement from Buckingham Palace read.

"He worked tirelessly for the good of his country, and his legacy is the peaceful South Africa we see today."

The Prince of Wales described the Nobel Peace Prize winner as "the embodiment of courage and reconciliation".